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TCS Graduate Programme

Ph.D. programme in Theoretical Computer Science

The normal route to the IMSc graduate research program is through an interview, and JEST (Joint Entrance Screening Test)  is one of the means by which we screen students and select them for interview. JEST is conducted for the PhD and Integrated PhD programmes for Theoretical Computer Science in IMSc.

What is JEST?

The  Joint Entrance Screening Test in Theoretical Computer Science is a test conducted across the country each year, usually on one day in the month of February.

Who is eligible?

M.Sc./ M.E. / M.Tech. / M.C.A. in Computer Science and related disciplines, interested in the mathematical aspects of computer science, will be considered for the Ph.D. programme. Students who expect to complete their final examination by the following July are also eligible to apply.

Talented graduates with Bachelor's degree in science/ mathematics/ statistics/ computer science/ information technology/ Engineering will be considered for the Integrated M.Sc.-Ph.D. programme. This means that they pick up a Masters' degree and a PhD degree on completion of the integrated programme.

Where can I write the JEST exam?

JEST will be conducted at major cities across the country.  JEST 2010 was conducted at Ahmedabad, Aligarh, Allahabad, Bangalore, Bardhaman, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Kochi, Kolkata, Madurai, Mumbai, Nagpur, Nainital, Patna, Pune, Raipur, Roorkee, Sambalpur, Silchar, Siliguri, Thiruvananthapuram, Udaipur and Visakhapatnam.

Can I do a PhD part-time with my job?

No, we only admit full-time students at IMSc. However, if you register for PhD with some university, there are possibilities of research collaboration with IMSc. Please see our page on the Graduate Visitor Programme.

Can I use a GATE score instead of writing JEST in Theoretical Computer Science?

No. We use the GATE score as additional information.

Are past JEST question papers for TCS available?


Are sample JEST questions for TCS available?


What material is covered by the JEST questions for TCS?


What is the structure of the JEST examination for TCS?

It is a three-hour written test. The question paper consists of two parts:

  • Part A is multiple-choice to be marked on the answer card provided.
  • Part B requires short answers to be written on the space provided in the paper.


How is the evaluation done?

  • Part A is evaluated mechanically. Part A scores will be available at the JEST website. IMSc decides a first cutoff. Only for students who meet this first cutoff, Part B of the answerbook will be evaluated.
  • The Part B scores are not declared. IMSc decides a second cutoff based on the performance in both parts.
  • Students meeting this second cutoff are called for an interview to Chennai.
  • Interview dates are usually during the last week of April and the first week of May.

What should I do to increase my chances of getting selected?

Here are some criteria which were followed by the TCS JEST examiners in recent years.

The first cutoff selects the top students among the Part A scores. IMSc chooses the cutoff depending on the number of students taking the examination and the number of answerbooks for which Part B is to be evaluated (manually). In 2010 we chose this cutoff to get the top 250 in Part A.

  • Among the top students with Part A scores,  those who get low Part B scores are rejected.
  • The top few among the Part B scores are selected. IMSc chooses this second cutoff depending on the number of students to be called to the interviews (to be done in a limited amount of time).
  • Apart from this, we look at answers of candidates who top-score on individual questions in Part B (if very few candidates overall do well on a question they have an advantage), or if the answers are ingenious or meticulous enough to deserve extra credit. In 2010 we were able to call around 30 students for TCS interviews.